Christchurch-born comedian Jarred Christmas talks to ThreeWeeks’ Nick Pearce about fatherhood, Edinburgh, and culture clashes.
NP: How has the stand-up been going so far?
JC: It’s been going well, pretty busy, but that tends to be how I do Edinburgh. I’ve packed in a few spontaneous gigs and BBC shows, and I’m also doing an improvised sci-fi film in front of a digitised green screen. It’s good fun, but I’ve started to realise I need to eat the right foods; a couple of sneaky bananas etc.
NP: What inspired you for this show?
JC: There is a through-line based around the point at which I had to write ‘Stand-up comedian’ as my profession on my daughter’s birth certificate. But overall it’s going back to what I love doing; jokes and storytelling.
NP: What are the main differences between Kiwi and Edinburgh audiences?
JC: In New Zealand stand-up is relatively new, and occasionally it seems like they treat it with the same passivity as they do theatre. Sometimes you can do an entire show where you think you’re dying, and then you finish to whooping and cheering, and you think, ‘I really could have done with that earlier!’ Edinburgh audiences are a different kettle of fish, but it’s up to the comedian to be in control: That’s why I walk out and strip to the Backstreet Boys, because I want people to know it’s not a serious piece.
NP: Kiwi comedy is undergoing a boom period. Is it long overdue or is this a new awakening?
JC: We’ve just been under the radar. ‘Flight Of The Concords’ lifted us above the parapet, and now there are a collection of us waving the flag, and doing really well. I think New Zealand’s isolation is finally paying off. Our influences are limited, so we look elsewhere for stand-up material. I think that seclusion gives us originality.
NP: Have you ever had a ‘good’ heckle?
JC: The best I’ve ever had was during my first headliner, five minutes in, a guy shouts out from the silence, “You have ruined my birthday!” There’s nowhere you can really go after that, so I said that I was sorry, but I still had fifteen minutes left. So then some other guy shouts out, “Great, you’ve ruined my birthday and it’s not until next week”. That was pretty grim.
NP: What do you spend your free time doing in Edinburgh?
JC: The great thing about Edinburgh is that there are lots of comics in one place, which doesn’t happen often. A couple of other comics and I have got a dinner club going, we take ourselves out of the festival; have a bit of a giggle and some nice wine. I also had my wife and baby up this year, which was fun.
NP: Your wife is English; are there any culture clashes in your marriage?
JC: Yes, but on minor things like pronunciation. Also, although I’ve been here for ten years I still ask things like, “Do you guys have pop tarts over here?” But I went back to New Zealand earlier in the year for the comedy festival, and I found myself asking my Kiwi mates “Do you have Bovril over here?”
NP: How are you handling your new role as father Christmas?
JC: I’m enjoying it, although you suddenly become aware that it’s not all about you, which is odd as most comedians have to be self-centred performers. I go out, I rock a gig, then I get out and read a text asking me to buy nappies on my way home. It’s a world of extremes, but I love it.
Jarred Christmas’ show ‘Stands Up’ was performed at Gilded Balloon Teviot during Fringe 2010.